Independent Report on Marches, Parades and Static Demonstrations in Scotland

Independent advice prepared by Dr Michael Rosie on marches, parades and static demonstrations in Scotland.

Section 2: Stakeholder Views 2015-16

2.1 Despite widespread public perceptions about the particular impacts of Loyal Order and Irish Republican marches, few issues of major concern were raised in this recent scoping exercise.

2.2 By and large most, if not all, respondents had a positive view of the Orr Review and its recommendations. Where there was dissent from this view, it was generally felt that this sprung from occasions and contexts where Orr's recommendations had been 'cherry-picked' rather than fully followed through.

2.3 Broadly speaking, arrangements around parades worked well, and almost all the main issues raised in our discussions could be ameliorated through better communication and dialogue.

2.4 The United Nations' Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association made a short visit to Scotland in 2013 and consulted key stakeholders with regards to marches and parades. Overall, he found that freedom of assembly was, in practice, very secure in Scotland:

Parades are generally largely peaceful and well facilitated by the police. The increasing use of dialogue and negotiation between local authorities and police on the one hand, and organizers of parades and protests on the other, in order to ensure that these events take place with minimal difficulty, is commendable. [2]

2.5 Little was heard in this consultative exercise that was in any significant way contrary to the Rapporteur's overall view. In particular, no legislative change is recommended in this report, although close examination of some aspects of legislation by those responsible for facilitating and policing marches and parades may be useful, not least to urgently clarify areas of current uncertainty.

2.6 It might be noted, however, that the Rapporteur made three specific recommendations for change in practices in Scotland, and these are examined in the following discussion:

Amend the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 with a view to reducing the notification period to a few days;

Ensure that the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is not subject to cost recovery measures;

Adopt a harmonized approach across local authorities to facilitating parades.

[ Report of the Special Rapporteur, 2013, p22]

The Statutory Notification period

2.7 Local authorities and police very much welcomed Orr's introduction of a statutory 28 day minimum notification period. For police commanders, the longer period allowed for greater flexibility in forward planning, not least a reduction in last minute cancellation of police leave, with the financial implications that had on police budgets. Both Police and local authority officers felt the 28 day period had encouraged organisers to engage more closely with the notification process and, as a result, organisers have taken on more responsibility for pre-planning their events. This, in turn, has helped to build stronger and more positive relations between the key parties in a march or parade. Parade organisers were relaxed about the change from seven to 28 days, although in most cases reported that their parade had over a number of years been notified well in excess of 28 days.

2.8 We heard no support for the UN Rapporteur's view that the notification period should be reduced down to 'a few days'. This was seen as practically unworkable by police and local authorities, and unnecessary by march and parade organisers. All felt that the four week minimum period afforded sufficient time for negotiation and dialogue where required.

2.9 Organisers noted that although they had a statutory duty to give at least 28 days' notice, there was no statutory duty on the part of local authorities (or police) to respond within a particular time frame. We heard of marches and parades notified many months ahead of time which, nevertheless, saw planning meetings with local authority officials take place a matter of days before the event itself. Such tight timescales do not allow for forward planning and make it difficult for organisations to lodge appeals should they feel the local authority have acted unreasonably. Where additional conditions are made (i.e. beyond those clearly communicated as 'standard' at the point of notification) then it is essential that organisers are given reasonable time to prepare and make an appeal.

2.10 Local authority officials agreed that it was in all parties' interests to speed up responses to early notifications, but noted several difficulties in doing so. For example, if Police Scotland do not provide observations until late in the process, local authorities can feel hamstrung. Should such late observations suggest additional conditions, then there are acute time pressures in ensuring, for example, that the Notification is scrutinised by the relevant local authority committee. This leaves the impression that conditions are being imposed at the last minute, which can cause difficulties between parade organisers and the local authority. Some local authority officers suggested that police be required to make their feelings known, even if necessarily provisionally, within a set period after receipt of the Notification. There is an inbuilt tension here since Police Scotland will always wish to base their views on the most up to date available information - but it is clear the balance between reasonable delay and workable timescales is not always met. At minimum, both the local authority and police should issue acknowledgement of the notification, and raise any 'inevitable' issues i.e. those that are clear from the outset, at their earliest convenience.


2.11 While recognising that final discussions and decision-making has to take place with the most up to date information available, in keeping with the spirit and recommendations of the Orr Review, at a minimum, both the local authority and police should issue acknowledgement of a notification and raise any issues that are clear from the outset at an early opportunity. This will ensure that organisers are apprised of any likely issues or problems and are given a reasonable time to prepare and, if necessary, make any appeals.

Police Scotland views

2.12 Police respondents described current legislation relating to marches and parades as 'adequate' but would welcome a convergence of 'standard conditions' (as laid down by local authorities) across Scotland - a view that accords to some extent with the UN Rapporteur's recommendation of a "harmonized approach across local authorities". We examine local differences in such conditions below.

2.13 Likewise, police respondents were keen to see increased use of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders ( TTROs) as part of the management of marches and parades, in part to reduce the resource burden on Police Scotland.

2.14 Concern over resources continued to be key to the police view and had contributed to a change in policing strategies for larger parades, not least the Orange Order's annual Boyne celebration parades. We were told that improved engagement with organisers, allied to intelligence-led, targeted and zonal policing styles had reduced police resources required for the Glasgow Boyne parade by 55 per cent.

2.15 Criminality at Loyal Order and Irish Republican parades was "at a fairly low level", but the scope and complexities of the Glasgow Boyne events, and their city centre location, mean that at times the police feel that their focus is often directed at "keeping a lid" on events, sometimes requiring higher tolerance of behaviours that would not be tolerated on another occasion. Notably, however, this reflected a context in which arrests might exacerbate rather than help, and is not dissimilar to other crowd event contexts unrelated to marches and parades. However, senior police officers felt that Loyal Order and Irish Republic parades offered specific issues around the behaviour of spectators and around broader public perceptions of such parades as "threatening" and "exclusionary".

2.16 Police praised the great improvements made by the major organisations by way of taking some responsibility in engaging with spectators and in improving the number and quality of stewards/marshals. Public perception has not caught up with these marked improvements and organisations should think further about how to reassure the public.

2.17 Police commanders also felt that more consideration should be given to the community impact of marches and parades - in particular, the cumulative impact in areas where there are multiple parades - and to community engagement.

2.18 Stirling University's Community Impact of Public Processions had raised the issue of cumulative impacts and senior officers felt that insufficient attention was paid to such impacts and to 'proportionality' in the consideration of notifications. The number of processions burdens some communities and provides a huge challenge to police resources. Senior officers felt that cost recovery mechanisms were required to ameliorate both costs to police and costs (e.g. for rubbish disposal after large events) to local authorities.

2.19 Senior police officers believed that there is no meaningful or proactive community engagement at local authority level and, indeed, that inconsistency around how march and parade information is made available online (see below) does not support public information provision, let alone engagement. In their view, therefore, 'community engagement' tends to consist of local authorities asking police to comment upon community views, which the police can, and do, provide through intelligence units.

2.20 As we note below, "informing and involving the community" was a key element within the Orr Review (see Recommendations 9 through 14). The Scottish Government's Analysis of Consultation Responses (2009) found that their public respondents were "in the main, unaware of when marches take place in their communities" and that "there was little evidence of increased involvement by individuals or community organisations in the decision making process". This is clearly an area where relatively limited progress has been made in meeting the spirit and the letter of the Orr Review, and some further thought would be useful in how to progress this aspect of march and parade management.


2.21 Local authorities and police should give further thought as to how meaningful and proactive engagement involving the community, and as set out in the Orr Review, can take place.

Local authority views

2.22 Local authority officials raised queries and problematic issues over marches and parades-related policy and legislation and expressed considerable concerns over increased police requirements to have Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders ( TTROs) in place for marches and parades.

2.23 Most local authorities were keen to reduce the administrative burdens around marches and parades. For example, in terms of the implementation of the Orr Review's recommendations, one local authority noted that the Guidance for Scottish local authorities issued in 2006 allowed "Scottish Ministers [to] make an order at the Scottish Parliament to give details of types of processions which are excluded from the requirements to give 28 days' notice". This power had never been exercised and the local authority wondered if it ever would be.

2.24 Some local authority officials also noted the very limited circumstances whereby Notified marches and parades could be prohibited or subjected to conditions beyond those which applied to all parades. It was felt that there was limited understanding of this amongst the public at large, leading to misunderstandings over why local authorities 'allowed' marches and parades which some members of the public opposed in general. Such opposition could never be satisfied so long as the parade occurred since it is the specific organisation/event being opposed rather than any issue of law or process. There was a sense that some local authorities did not wish to be embroiled in 'political' disputes over marches and parades which they could not effectively address given their restricted powers.

2.25 The issue of cumulative impact, as raised in the Community Impact of Public Processions report, was seen as an important issue, but one that was difficult to consistently address - one view is that, in general, the public do not like the inevitable disruption caused by marches and parades but accept them as an inherent part of democratic life.

2.26 Conversely, some officials noted a strong 'licensing' culture in some local authorities, and committees which did not fully appreciate that Notifications were to be facilitated rather than 'approved' (this is further explored below).

2.27 As with the police view, local authority officials reported that most parade organisers were well-informed about processes and liaised positively with local authorities. Several local authority officials reported that the key 'qualitative' difference, from their perspective, between Loyal Order/Irish Republican parades and those of other bodies, was a positive one - marches and parades organised by these groups tended to be more professional and better organised. Since these organisations march regularly they have a substantial reservoir of experience and knowledge about the Notification process. In sum, they are good at organising marches and parades; they increasingly use event management plans, meaning notifications are standardised and easily processed; and they are used to sticking to a tight timetable on the day. Other organisations are not always so capable or so strict on protocol with those marching. This competency was particularly the case with the Orange Order who, reflecting their size and long parading tradition, were described as knowledgeable and confident with a tendency to provide local authority officials with clear, professional plans and a vision for their parades.

2.28 The Orr Review had benefitted local authorities, not least through encouraging march and parade organisers to engage with the process and, as a result, get better at it. The larger parades increasingly feature sophisticated Event Management Plans, often at the organiser's instigation. Such plans are very helpful to local authorities in discharging their duties around Notifications and are to be encouraged since they are also beneficial to the notifying organisations. Considerable improvements around stewarding had also positively impacted the behaviour of 'followers'. The professional levels of stewarding at Orange Order, Apprentice Boys, Black Chapter and Cairde na hÉireann parades was highlighted, although it was felt that there is a need to encourage smaller organisations and Band Associations to continue to improve in terms of stewarding

2.29 As with the police, concerns were raised at the relative lack of progress with regards to community consultation and engagement. Local authority officials noted that while information about notified marches and parades is provided to communities online and via newspaper notification, reach and accessibility is patchy and often very basic - this is not seen as approaching how the Orr Review envisioned engagement. Some officials noted that a practical lack of real consultation can be a way for local authorities to insulate themselves from objections but it was recognised that communities must be provided with appropriate and accessible tools to engage with notified marches and parades (and to object) if the principle of consultation is to be taken seriously.

2.30 We heard interesting discussion around whether more information on the objection process, and on the appropriate grounds upon which a local authority could act on objections, could be provided to the public. For example, local authorities might provide structured and detailed FAQs to guide people through the process of objecting to marches and parades - and on what form of objections can be acted upon. We explore below the extent to which such information is available on local authority websites and highlight good practice.

2.31 There was, however, some uncertainty over what legislation referred specifically to, marches and parades: here it is useful simply to note that such terms are far from transparent, nor used precisely. For example, the 2006 Guidance for Scottish local authorities contains a short section on Managing Traffic (#29) which advises local authorities to "examine the effect on public roads if a procession is allowed […], and whether traffic can be controlled well enough by police". Readers are then directed to another document, Galas and Events Affecting Public Roads: Guidance To Organisers , issued by the (then) Scottish Executive in 2005. Yet that document is largely concerned with "traditional events such as common ridings, riding of the marches, town galas, festive celebrations, military processions and the like" (Cover Note) rather than political or other marches/parades.

2.32 Further, the Galas and Events guidance distinguishes between "events such as a march, or a moving procession" and "any other event" (Section 2.0). These "other" events, the document continues, are covered by Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Sections 16A-C of the Road Traffic Regulation (Special Events) Act 1994 . These Acts specifically refer to "relevant events" defined as "any sporting event, social event or entertainment which is held on a road". It is not at all clear to the lay reader, therefore, the extent to which any Loyal Order, Irish Republican or any other broadly 'political' or 'protest' march is actually covered by these Road Traffic Acts.

2.33 Strikingly, several issues raised during the consultation period for the Galas and Events guidance remained unanswered by the 2005 documents and appear to be of continuing relevance. For example, the 2005 consultation response from North Lanarkshire Council [3] noted that the Scottish Executive guidance "fail[ed] to address the principal issues". The Council raised several issues:

  • The question of whether the words "sporting event, social event or entertainment" in Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 embrace, also, public processions.
  • The circumstances in which a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order is required - particularly in connection with public processions - and the extent of or limitations on the powers of the police under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
  • It is considered, also, that the consultation document should address the current provision of the sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as inserted by the Road Traffic Regulation (Special Events) Act 1994 which provide that only one Temporary Traffic Regulation Order is permitted within any calendar year affecting the same length of road without special permission from the Scottish Ministers.
  • Finally it is considered that the document should address possible conflict between the timescales required for a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order and the period of notice required, under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, by a person proposing to hold a public procession.

2.34 Similarly, City of Edinburgh Council raised several relevant issues in response to the 2005 consultation: they noted of questions over "the police powers to hold traffic for short periods" that, in their view, such powers "can be adopted for short periods [of less than 15 minutes] and indeed using this means of dealing with marches etc. of short duration can avoid the costs of introducing a formal [roads] closure". There were two concerns over the costs of a TTRO. Firstly that it would be "inevitable that the local authority will be required to allocate significant resources" to securing the Order and communicating it to businesses, residents and the general public. There would be further costs around signage, barriers and traffic cones. Their second concern was that:

… although the[se] costs can be recovered where the event is for commercial purposes it is unlikely that organisers for marches aimed at a demonstration would make such a contribution. Furthermore it would appear that in such circumstances there is [no] legal ability to recover costs incurred by the Council if the organiser does not make a contribution voluntarily. [4]

2.35 A decade on, we heard similar concerns from local authority officials. We were told specifically, for example, of continuing uncertainty over whether marches and parades counted as the 'events' covered under Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. We heard that the way in which marches and parades are classified, in particular by Police Scotland, may "make a difference to how they are handled and the environment in which they are facilitated". We heard specific concerns over the current view expressed by Police Scotland that police emergency powers to stop and hold traffic cannot be deployed for pre-planned events. A number of officials queried whether this was actually relevant to marches and parades. We also heard concerns - which we explore below - that the time required to secure a TTRO significantly exceeds the 28 day minimum notification period as laid down by statute.

2.36 It seems clear that it has been, and remains, common practice for police to use powers to stop and hold traffic for short periods so as to facilitate marches and parades. It also seems clear that there was an assumption (and this assumption can be read throughout the Galas and Events guidance, the Orr Review, and the subsequent Guidance for Scottish local authorities ) that TTROs would only be required where there was a significant disruption to traffic or a particular concern over public safety. Yet it is also clear, as the Galas and Events guidance ( Section 1.0) notes, that there was concern over the extent and basis of police powers in the absence of a formal Order:

The practice that has often been followed for a number of years involves the police at a local level assisting to close off roads, control traffic, and generally ensure the safety of the public for the duration of the event. This has been done on an informal basis without the backing of official orders made under the legislative powers bestowed on roads authorities. With the pressures of the increasing traffic demand over the years, and increasing risks to public safety, it may not be appropriate to follow these informal practices. In many instances these practices bring into question the legality of the police activity, as exceeding the powers available to them.

2.37 These long-standing questions are becoming pressing given the expanding use of Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders to regulate traffic so as to facilitate even very modest marches and parades on public roads. We heard three areas of pressing concern from local authority officials.

2.38 Firstly, TTROs require 12 weeks to secure and their widespread use may sit in damaging tension with the 28 day statutory minimum notification period stipulated by the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, 2006 , a key outcome of the Orr Review. Put bluntly, if an organiser Notifies a parade 28 days ahead of time, as required by law, can (indeed, should) local authority refuse permission on the sole basis that there is insufficient time to arrange a TTRO? In the absence of clear and accessible information to organisers about when/why TTROs are required, how they are secured, and what costs (if any) would attach themselves to the march and parade organiser, such a position would seem unreasonable.

2.39 Yet the second area of pressing concern is precisely that such questions do not have clear answers. We heard of inconsistent understanding and practice around TTROs and a lack of clarity on the part of key local authority officials as to when and why one would be required for a march or parade. On the one hand we heard of instances where Police Scotland informed local authorities that all marches and parades, regardless of size or location required a TTRO to be in place (on the basis that 'emergency powers' to stop and hold traffic were invalid for pre-notified events). On the other we heard that sometimes police did not raise the issue at all. The strong perception of inconsistency means that many local authority officials feel unsure about when and why a TTRO would be required, and thus unable to advise parade organisers.

2.40 Thirdly, there is very widespread concern about costs to the local authority in securing a TTRO and meeting its provisions (e.g. in terms of barriers, notices and cones) and whether it is appropriate, or practicable, to pass costs on to organisers (especially for small marches and parades). We note an ongoing case of such difficulties for Falkirk Council below.

2.41 We might add to this the further point raised by North Lanarkshire in 2004: it is not at all clear whether unprecedentedly widespread use of TTROs will begin to cause serious disruption to the legal feasibility of marches and parades given that only one TTRO is allowed on any stretch of road in a given calendar year without 'special permission' from Scottish ministers. [5] Transport Scotland issued guidance on the process of obtaining Scottish Ministers consent through the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland in late 2015 [6] . Such consent can only be given on a case-by-case basis, and may add to the length of time required to secure a TTRO. It is essential that urgent attention is given to these issues to clarify any uncertainty or confusion in the minds and practices of the key parties to any march or parade. We return to the issue of TTROs below.

Organiser views

2.42 March and parade organisers were, on the whole, appreciative of current procedures and of the major changes put in place after the Orr Review. They have, however, a number of concerns, most notably over perceived inconsistencies between standard conditions and in their actual application; over delays between the submission of a Notification and actual discussion with local authorities and police; on the uncertainties and anxieties created by the current increase in requirements of TTROs; on the 'licensing mentality' of some local authorities; on the introduction of various kinds of cost recovery around marches and parades; and regarding some cases of limited or poor engagement with local authorities and police.

2.43 Some of these issues are explored below, but here it is worth noting that several of the concerns of parading organisations echo those heard from local authority officials. Organisations described to us Notifications submitted many months in advance which, nevertheless, may not be confirmed until a matter of days before the parade itself. This has been the case for both large and complex marches and parades and for relatively modest ones. As one organisation put it: "[our notification] is always months in advance and [we] always get last minute agreement". There seems, in such cases, to be limited benefit to organisers of 'early' Notification, even though it is of clear benefit and convenience to local authorities and police. Whilst some issues may not be clear until around the date of the parade (for example football fixtures or last minute public order concerns) more needs to be done to deal with the more routine aspects of Notifications as early as possible after submission.

2.44 Similarly, where it is clear that 'additional' conditions are likely to be attached to a parade, or where the route is thought to be unacceptable, these should be flagged up to Notifiers as soon as practicable - we heard claims of decisions being communicated to processors too late for them to lodge formal appeals. Early response to early Notification is entirely within the spirit of the Orr Review- indeed Orr provided an exemplar 'timescale' for Notifications which suggested that an agreed outcome could be, even on the minimum 28 day notification, negotiated some two weeks before the event itself (Orr, 2005: 12.13). It seems reasonable, therefore, that a Notification submitted months ahead of the statutory minimum should receive early response.

2.45 Parading organisations are exercised by perceived inconsistencies in standard conditions and in their application. For example we heard of parades where bands were required to march in silence past places of worship whilst street entertainers and buskers played outside without apparent restriction. We also heard claims that 'standard conditions' on music were enforced for some organisations' parades, but ignored for, e.g., Armed Forces or Civic parades. All standard conditions currently issued by Scottish local authorities contain a clear directive regarding the density of the march or parade, usually the maximum and/or minimum number of participants who may march abreast. Such 'standard' conditions are seldom enforced for, e.g., political protests and demonstrations but, it was claimed, 'rigidly' stipulated for Loyal Order and Irish Republican organisation and, in particular, for their accompanying bands. We also heard (as explored below) claims of inconsistencies relating to other common standard conditions.

2.46 Stewarding was a key issue raised by all of the parading organisations consulted. There has been widespread recognition of the considerable improvements in the capacity of the key Loyal Order and Irish Republican organisations to provide well-trained stewards and marshals to their events. However, the organisations themselves sometimes feel that the levels of their own investment - in terms of their own time and money, and in terms of positive impacts on police costs - are not always adequately acknowledged.

2.47 Very considerable and ongoing stewarding programmes have been undertaken, sometimes 'in-house', sometimes with outside (paid) consultants. For example, we heard that 180 members of the Apprentice Boys of Derry (a significant proportion of their membership) have undertaken a full-day of formal training with external consultants, followed up by ongoing in-house events. The Orange Order reports that they have trained 3,000 stewards (again a significant proportion of their membership) through a rolling programme that was developed and previously delivered in conjunction with Strathclyde Police. Since the creation of Police Scotland, this programme has continued without police input. The extent to which such organisations have invested in, developed and maintained steward training programmes should be acknowledged, as should the very positive contribution such stewards and marshals make to successful and orderly parades.

2.48 It might be noted, however, that parading organisations also mentioned a limited police contribution, in particular after the creation of Police Scotland. As already discussed, since 2013 the Orange Order's programme has become 'in-house' and we would encourage both the Order and Police Scotland to open dialogue about returning to full and formal police involvement, even if only in an advisory role. Whilst the Apprentice Boys programme has always been 'in house', Police Scotland are routinely invited to training courses and to steward meetings. We have been told that responses to these invitations have been "geographically patchy". Cairde na hÉireann reported that whilst they had previously been in dialogue with Police Scotland in terms of steward training, this relationship has broken down and police no longer attend steward briefing meetings prior to Cairde na hÉireann parades. Fuller police engagement in these various aspects of steward training and deployment can only bring positive outcomes in training and in building good relationships, as well as in reducing the police resources required on the day of a march or parade. As one organisation told us: it is "difficult to improve stewarding further when there is no police involvement".


2.49 Police Scotland and march and parade organisers should prioritise dialogue with a view to establishing/re-establishing fuller police engagement with steward training and deployment.

2.50 One issue that march and parade organisers found particularly difficult was the breakdown of agreed arrangements on the day itself. On some occasions this was perceived to be down to the view of the police commander on the day. We were told by one organisation that, in relation to the police directions around issues such as the playing of music, "despite prior decision making, it often comes down to decisions made by the police officer in charge on the day - [if they] don't care or haven't been adequately briefed". Where "no real briefing has been provided" to the duty commander on the day "it makes prior discussion and agreement redundant". Another organisation pointed to delays to marches and parades caused by police insistence that certain flags and banner pole spear-tops - previously discussed and agreed - were removed. Such disputes - often in plain view of rank and file processionists - were seen as unnecessarily (and for some, 'deliberately') fomenting dissention and raising the temperature. More than one organisation expressed fears that 'heavy handed' policing might provoke reaction, and perhaps public disorder, leading to more stringent policing of future marches and parades.

2.51 Such disagreements illustrate the necessity of careful briefing and an agreed written action plan, as well as de-briefing post-event. All the organisations, however, described debriefs as rare. One Loyal Order reported that they would "only get a debrief if something goes wrong", though they were confident that some local authorities (Glasgow was specifically mentioned) would facilitate a multi-agency debrief if requested. Another reported that: "the police will send a report to the local authority, who then forward this to the [organiser] - but this is only if something goes wrong and does not allow for any input to the official record or a chance to clear up any misunderstanding". For Irish Republican organisations, relations with police may have a more strained history and context. One such organisation reported that the "only dialogue [they] have with Police Scotland is on the day of the march" and that they have had no debriefs for over two years, even after a parade to which police themselves raised formal objections and where the organisers requested a debrief.

2.52 Debriefs - and the capacity to hold one even if a key party feels there were no adverse issues - are an important part of the process of dialogue. They allow misunderstandings to be ironed out and help avoid them for future events. They can play a key role in furthering the training of stewards and marshals, as well as allowing for different perspectives to be aired and understood. Where trust is in danger of erosion because of perceived broken agreements, formal debriefs can create an agreed record of events allowing the various parties to avoid such issues or misunderstandings in the future. Maintaining and developing trustful relationships is absolutely key to ensuring that marches and parades remain well-organised, (relatively) easy to facilitate, and orderly in practice.

2.53 Parading organisations felt that a number of issues were beginning to erode relationships of trust built up over many years and over many marches and parades. They pointed to 'best practice' by certain local authorities (see, e.g., below on Edinburgh's Events Planning and Operations Group) being undermined by increased intervention by elected Councillors in areas where organisations had built up relationships with permanent officials. Some pointed to the formation of Police Scotland which, they felt, had led to a standardisation of police approaches which could ill-suit local contexts, and sometimes meant that marches and parades were policed by out-of-district officers who did not know a particular area or route. We also heard that with local authorities sorely stretched as to funding, staffing and resourcing, that face-to-face meetings were less frequent, meaning that opportunities to solve problems before they escalated or, more generally, to build trusting relationships became more limited. Most alarming here is the seeming breakdown of almost all dialogue - before, during, and after parades - between Police Scotland and key Irish Republican organisers.


2.54 Police, local authorities and march and parade organisers should work together to ensure clear procedures are in place for all marches and parades, with clear and consistent briefing, including agreed written action plans. Where appropriate - e.g. where additional conditions were attached to a march or parade, or where issues of concern are raised by any of the key parties - Police Scotland, local authorities, march and parade organisers and local communities - de-briefing should take place.

2.55 Given constraints on local authority and police funding, most parading organisations were extremely wary of areas where these agencies were seeking, or were perceived to be seeking, to recover costs from organisers. The most vexed of these related - as we explore below - to Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders and related 'Traffic Management Plans', but there were others, such as Glasgow's requirements that sizeable marches and parades (of 1,000 participants or more) "will be required to identify a suitable park or off street area for assembly and/or dispersal". [7] Whilst parading organisations were not opposed in principle to this requirement, in practice they noted that this introduced fees for the use of public parks, as well as further bureaucracy through having to negotiate 'Permission To Use' ( PTU) certificates with local authority departments, who often did not view their key role as one of 'facilitating' marches and parades. Costs remain one of the most vexed areas of marched and parades processes and policy - expanded use of TTROs and the uncertainties around them are magnifying this.


Back to top